Gyasi Ross: Denise Juneau, underdog, takes center stage at DNC

"One of the strongest pieces of evidence of Native people’s ascent within the political infrastructure is the rising star of Denise Juneau, a powerful young educator of Mandan, Hidatsa and Blackfeet ancestry. She is running for re-election as Montana’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction. She rocked it last night at the Democratic National Convention.

Confidently, Ms. Juneau walked on the same stage as all of the powerful non-underdog politicians and gave a spellbinding speech that told a bit about her background, her beliefs, and why she supports President Obama (not coincidentally Obama is also an underdog as the child of a single mother). It was particularly powerful because Denise is a woman from the Blackfeet Reservation; very few folks from any reservation ever get on such a large and public stage—it’s even less frequent that women from large and impoverished reservations ever gets to be on those kinds of stages. Like many Northern Plains reservations, unemployment there hovers around 70%, socio-economic issues abound, and let’s be honest, there are places where it’s difficult to get your footing and to really get ahead. There are plenty of talented people on our reservations, yet because so many of these homelands are so remote, so off-the-grid that the many times the talents get overlooked and seem to simply fade into obscurity.

We are underdogs; but of course we can overcome with hard work, prayer and opportunity."

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: Underdogs, Daniel LaRusso, and Democrats: Denise Juneau Rocked the House (Indian Country Today 9/6)

Related Stories:
Gyasi Ross: Tribal nations can't count on major political parties (8/31)
Gyasi Ross: Paying attention to non-Native political systems (8/23)
Gyasi Ross: Starting a tradition of acceptance in Indian Country (8/15)

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